The Academy Awards are Sunday night (8:30 p.m. on ABC), which means it's time for me to make my annual predictions in all 24 categories. As a reminder, my "Who Will Win" picks are made purely to help you win an Oscar pool and don't necessarily reflect what I think should win, or what I thought were the best movies of the year. They also definitely don't pass judgment on what were the most "Bro" movies of 2011. Of this year's top nominees, "Moneyball" probably fits that bill the most, but I don't think Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, or its filmmakers will be taking home any little gold men.
In general, it's actually a tough year for predicting. The acting categories are very competitive (most of those are usually locks), and there are some really strong nominees for some of the more technical categories like Art Direction and Cinematography. If you're having a tough time picking in any category, however, lean toward "The Artist," which is going to clean up Sunday night.
Here's a quick cheat sheet, followed by a full list of winners and nominees, plus my own two cents on some of the top categories:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Documentary Feature: Undefeated
Best Art Direction: Hugo
Best Cinematography: The Artist
Best Costume Design: The Artist
Best Film Editing: The Artist
Best Makeup: The Iron Lady
Best Original Score: The Artist
Best Song: “Man or Muppet,” The Muppets
Best Sound Editing: War Horse
Best Sound Mixing: Hugo
Best Visual Effects: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Best Documentary Short: Saving Face
Best Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Best Live Action Short Film: The Shore
That makes 6 wins for "The Artist," and two each for "Hugo," "The Descendants," and "The Iron Lady." Here's the full category-by-category breakdown:
What Will Win: The Artist
What Might But Probably Won't Win: Hugo
The Other Nominees: The Descendants, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Help, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree Of Life, War Horse
AG's Take: I saw "The Artist" and "Hugo" on back-to-back nights in a sudden let's-go-watch-movies-about-movies fit last December. I loved both and highly recommend seeing "The Artist" when it hits Netflix Instant in a few months and "Hugo" on a big 3D screen while it's still in theaters. I left "Hugo" thinking it would win Best Picture because I just couldn't imagine the Academy giving its big prize to a silent film. Turns out I was wrong. "The Artist" has all the momentum and is a virtual lock for this award, and I won't be complaining. I know, you're never going to see either of these films; just don't be shocked if and when they win most of the big awards.
Who Will Win: George Clooney, The Descendants
Who Might Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Who Probably Won't Win: Brad Pitt, Moneyball
The Other Nominees: Demián Bichir, A Better Life; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
AG's Take: Among the Hollywood prognosticators, I've seen this pretty well split between Dujardin, Clooney, and Pitt. The prevailing argument is that the momentum of "The Artist"'s big wins will carry Dujardin to victory. And Clooney and Pitt might almost split the nicest-leading-man-in-Hollywood vote. Dujardin's a safe bet, but I'll go for a bit of an upset and bet my future property in Kauai on Clooney.
Who Will Win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Who Might Win: Viola Davis, The Help
Who Should Win But Probably Won't: Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
The Other Nominees: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Rooney Mara, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
AG's Take: Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn" was the best performance I've seen all year. But it seems like this is a total flip of a coin between Davis and Streep. I'll go with Streep because even though she's seemingly nominated every year, she hasn't won since 1983.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
The Other Nominees: Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn; Jonah Hill, Moneyball; Nick Nolte, Warrior; and Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Who Might Win: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
The Other Nominees: Bérénice Bejo, The Artist; Jessica Chastain, The Help; and Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
AG's Take: At one point in the last year, this was a shoe-in for McCarthy, but Spencer has gained a lot of momentum in the past few months. I think the fact that McCarthy's performance came in a comedy hurts her. I'm still pissed that the excellent (and hot) Shailene Woodley wasn't nominated for her role in "The Descendants."
Who Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Who Might Win: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
The Other Nominees: Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris; Terrence Malick, The Tree Of Life; Alexander Payne, The Descendants.
AG's Take: Same argument as Best Picture, and Marty recently won for "The Departed," so the Academy doesn't owe him anything.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Who Will Win: The Descendants, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Who Might Win: Moneyball, Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin
The Other Nominees: Hugo, John Logan; The Ides Of March, Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon; and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan.
AG's Take: "The Descendants" is the clear favorite here, especially since Sorkin won for "Social Network" last year.
Best Original Screenplay
Who Will Win: Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen
Who Might Win: The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
The Other Nominees: Bridesmaids, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig; Margin Call, J.C. Chandor; and A Separation, Asghar Farhadi.
AG's Take: If Hazanavicius wins this early in the night, expect a sweep for "The Artist." But I think this is Woody's to lose.
Best Foreign Language Film
What Will Win: A Separation (Iran)
The Other Nominees: Bullhead (Belgium), Footnote (Israel), In Darkness (Poland), Monsieur Lazhar (Canada).
Best Animated Feature
What Will Win: Rango
The Other Nominees: A Cat In Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots.
AG's Take: "Rango" is a lock, but just thought I'd point out that Pixar wasn't nominated for the first time ever (that's how much people were disappointed with "Cars 2"), and that Spielberg's "Rin Tin Tin" was snubbed as well. Hopefully that'll start hammering nails into the coffin of the unbearable stop-motion animation.
Best Documentary Feature
What Will Win: Undefeated
What Might Win: Paradise Lost: Purgatory.
The Other Nominees: Hell And Back Again, If A Tree Falls: The Story Of The Earth Liberation Front, Pina
Best Art Direction
Who Will Win: Hugo, Dante Ferretti (production design), Francesca Lo Schiavo (set decoration)
The Other Nominees: The Artist, Laurence Bennett (design), Robert Gould (set); Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Stuart Craig (design), Stephenie McMillan (set); Midnight In Paris, Anne Seibel (design), Hélène Dubreuil (set); War Horse, Rick Carter (design), Lee Sandales (set).
AG's Take: The Paris train station and Georges Melies's primitive film studio in "Hugo" are characters unto themselves. "The Artist" has an outside shot, but very outside.
Who Will Win: The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
Who Might Win: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth; Hugo, Robert Richardson; The Tree Of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki; and War Horse, Janusz Kaminski.
AG's Take: An absolute toss up. Every single nominee has a fighting chance on this one. If you want to go for an upset, pick "The Tree of Life."
Best Costume Design
Who Will Win: The Artist, Mark Bridges
The Other Nominees: Anonymous, Lisy Christl; Hugo, Sandy Powell; Jane Eyre, Michael O’Connor; and W.E., Arrianne Phillips.
Best Film Editing
Who Will Win: The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius and Anne-Sophie Bion
Who Might Win: The Descendants, Kevin Tent; Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker.
The Other Nominees: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall; and Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen.
Who Will Win: The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
The Other Nominees: Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle; Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin.
AG's Take: Would be kind of funny if Streep lost Best Actress, but the makeup people who turned her into Margaret Thatcher won Best Makeup. Also, I thought that "Harry Potter" was a lock for this one until I read that none of the seven "Harry Potter" films have ever taken this category.
Best Original Score
Who Will Win: The Artist, Ludovic Bource
The Other Nominees: The Adventures Of Tintin, John Williams; Hugo, Howard Shore; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias; and War Horse, John Williams.
What Will Win: “Man or Muppet,” The Muppets (music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie)
The Other Nominee: “Real in Rio,” Rio (music by Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, lyrics by Siedah Garrett)
AG's Take: Bret from "Flight of the Conchords" is about to win an Oscar. Reminds me of the time Three 6 Mafia won in 2006 and host Jon Stewart quipped, "Martin Scorsese: 0, Three 6 Mafia: 1."
Best Sound Editing
Who Will Win: War Horse, Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
The Other Nominees: Drive, Lou Bender and Victor Ray Ennis; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Ren Klyce; Hugo, Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty; and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl.
Best Sound Mixing
Who Will Win: Hugo, Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
The Other Nominees: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson; Moneyball, Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick; Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin; and War Horse, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson.
Best Visual Effects
What Will Win: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
The Other Nominees: Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Hanning; Real Steel, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg; Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett; and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier.
Best Documentary Short
What Will Win: Saving Face
The Other Nominees: The Barber Of Birmingham: Foot Soldier Of The Civil Rights Movement, God Is The Bigger Elvis, Incident In Baghdad, and The Tsunami And The Cherry Blossom.
Best Animated Short Film
What Will Win: The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore
What Might Win: A Morning Stroll
The Other Nominees: Dimanche/Sunday, La Luna, and Wild Life.
Best Live Action Short Film
What Will Win: The Shore
The Other Nominees: Pentecost, Raju, Time Freak, and Tuba Atlantic.